The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

By William Cullen Bryant II; Thomas G. Voss et al. | Go to book overview
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5.
William Leavenworth of Great Barrington, son of Bryant's friend and former landlord David Leavenworth, had built a dam and mill on the Green River in 1828, and owned a nearby marble quarry. It is uncertain when he went to Saint Louis or for what purpose. See Taylor, Great Barrington, p. 358. Casson is unidentified.

245. To Frances F. Bryant

Jacksonville [ Illinois] June 12 1832.

My dear Frances.

I left St. Louis as I expected on the 6th inst. at eleven o'clock in the morning and proceeded up the Mississippi. I think I omitted in my last to, say any thing of the scenery on the river between St. Genevieve and St. Louis. The eastern bank still continues to be low but the western is steep and rocky. The rocks sometimes rise into lofty precipices which impend over the river and are worn by some cause into fantastic figures presenting in some places the appearance of the arches, pillars and cornices of a ruined city. Near a place called Selma I saw where one of these precipices was made use of for a shot tower, for the purpose of converting the lead of the neighbouring mines into shot. A small wooden building projects over the verge of a very high perpendicular cliff and the melted lead falls from the floor of this building, into a vat at the fool of the precipice, filled with water.

I saw nothing remarkable on the Mississippi until we arrived within a few miles of the junction of the Missouri with this river. I there perceived that the steam-boat had emerged from the thick muddy water in which it had been moving into a clear transparent current. We were near the eastern bank and this was the current of the Mississippi. On the other side of us we could discern the line which separated it from the turbid waters of the Missouri. We at length arrived at the meeting of these two great streams. The Missouri comes in through several channels between islands covered with lofty trees, and where the two currents encounter each other there is a violent agitation of the waters which rise into a ridge of short chopping waves as if they were contending with each other. The currents flow down side by side unmingled for the distance of twelve miles or more until at length the Missouri prevails and gives its own character and appearance to the whole body of water.

At a place called Lower Alton a few miles above the mouth of the Missouri we stopped to repair one of the boilers and I climbed a steep grassy eminence on the shore which commanded a very extensive view of the river and surrounding country. Every thing lay in deep forest. I could see the woods beyond the Missouri but the course of that stream was hidden by the gigantic trees with which it is bordered. When I awoke the next morning we were in the Illinois a gentle stream about as large as the Connecticut, with waters like the Ohio somewhat turbid. The Mississippi has generally on one side a steep bank of soft earth ten or twelve feet in

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